What can I feed my dog at Christmas?

Don't make a dog's dinner out Christmas - find out what you should and shouldn't feed your dog this festive period 

22nd November 2023

With Christmas fast approaching, we all want to make it special for our nearest and dearest - fluffy or otherwise! However, as pet owners, the season can bring unique challenges, particularly when it comes to food safety. 

Shocking new findings from our latest survey found that 67% of Brits feed their dogs at least one potentially toxic food over the festive season.

Christmas is by far the most common period for dogs to eat something they shouldn’t. In 2022, our claims for toxic ingestion peaked on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Day as the second-highest date. For some perspective, December 2022 saw 76% more claims than the second-highest month, which was April!

To make sure you don’t make a ‘dog’s dinner’ out of the big day, we’ve teamed up with Dr. Sam Webster, Director of Clinical Operations at Joii Pet Care to reveal exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) feed your dog over the Christmas period.

A dog waiting for their dinner

Pets are part of the family, and while you can’t involve them in all aspects of a traditional Christmas dinner, you can still serve them a pup-appropriate version of your meal for them to enjoy the festive fun alongside you!

Lean meats such as turkey and chicken are fine to feed to your pup. Choose the lightest section of the joint, remove any bones and add this to their bowl. Serve this with some festive vegetable favourites. If sprouts are a staple on your Christmas plate, these can be shared in very small moderation with your dog - however, we’d recommend carrots, parsnips, broccoli or cauliflower, as these are all more dog-friendly choices which are safer for your pup to tuck into. 

Finish their dinner with a small serving of boiled potato or plain mash - just make sure you set aside their portion before adding butter/oil and any seasonings. 

An illustration of dog safe foods

Christmas foods to avoid

A graphic of dangerous foods

Pigs in blankets (and other fatty meats)

Our study showed that fatty meats are the most commonly-fed toxic food given to dogs over the Christmas period - with 27% of owners admitting to doing so! 
Foods like bacon, pork and meat skins should be avoided as these could result in numerous health problems, such as pet obesity and pancreatitis. You can give them lean meat such as turkey or chicken instead! 


Avoid pouring gravy over your dog’s portion of dinner as it’s not only high in fats and salts but can also contain onions which can be toxic for dogs.

Mince pies (and other puddings)

Mincemeat, currants, raisins, and sultanas are popular in puds this time of year, but they are also toxic to dogs. So while those puppy-dog eyes can be a killer, don’t be tempted to give them any mince pies over the Christmas period. You’ll also need to avoid Christmas puddings, fruit cakes and stollen as they have a mixture of dangerous dried fruits and sometimes alcohol too.

Cooked bones

You may think that giving your dog the leftover bones from your roasted meat is a good idea, but they’re often a recipe for trouble. Cooked bones tend to split into shards and splinters which could cause intestinal obstruction and serious damage to your dog's digestive tract.

Stuffing (or any onions and garlic)

All members of the onion family, including garlic, leeks and chives are toxic to dogs. If your dog eats any of these dry, raw, or cooked, it can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, red blood cell damage and anaemia.

As stuffing commonly contains onions and garlic, this Christmas favourite should be kept out of your dog’s bowl. Which works out fine, because it means more for us humans! 

Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings can be challenging for dogs to digest due to their high fat and salt content, so these should be avoided all year around. 

Cream, cheese and other dairy products

As dogs lack the enzyme needed to digest the lactose in dairy, giving them any foodstuff containing milk, butter or cream can, unfortunately, result in extreme discomfort. These should not be given in large amounts. 


Dogs should never be given alcohol, or any other products containing alcohol (e.g. Christmas pudding). It can have the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain as it has on yours and lead to sickness, diarrhoea and central nervous system damage. These products should also be stored well out of reach, just in case. 


While this may seem like common knowledge, our research found that 6% of dog owners confessed to giving their pup chocolate over the festive season. 

Chocolate contains a variety of ingredients that are harmful to dogs. These include fat, sugar, caffeine and a bitter alkaloid called theobromine. This toxic ingredient can cause nervous system disorders as well as heart and kidney failure in dogs, so keep your pooch away from any chocolate.

Other toxic foods that should be avoided include:

  • Cured meat and smoked salmon - unhealthy and potentially dangerous for dogs that suffer from heart disease and pancreatitis.
  • Potatoes with added salt, butter or oil - unhealthy and potentially dangerous for dogs that suffer from heart disease and pancreatitis - instead feed cooked potatoes plain with no seasoning.
  • Nuts - not recommended due to high fat and choking risk. Macadamia nuts are very toxic and must be avoided.
  • Sauces (e.g. mint or cranberry) - hard to digest so should be avoided.
  • Sweets - unhealthy and potentially dangerous for dogs with pancreatitis. Anything containing xylitol is highly toxic for dogs.

An illustration of foods that are safe in small amounts

Symptoms of food poisoning in your dog 

Christmas Day is often hectic, and it can be hard to keep an eye on your pooch at all times. Even if you haven’t seen your pet eating something they shouldn’t, it can take several hours for symptoms to appear. This is why it’s so important to recognise the symptoms of food poisoning so you can spot them as soon as they occur.

Our research found that the majority of dog owners can only name 2 out of the 13 symptoms of toxic ingestion. Those aged 25-34 are the least likely to know the symptoms, only recognising an average of 29% of all symptoms.

Food poisoning symptoms to look out for: 

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Lethargy.
  • Convulsions.
  • Drooling.
  • Dehydration.
  • Tremors.
  • High temperature.
  • Agitation.
  • Pale gums.
  • Abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • High blood pressure.

If you know your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, you should contact your vet immediately and not wait until signs and symptoms start to appear. If you are unaware of any consumption, but notice these symptoms start to present themselves, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. 

Top tips for a dog-friendly Christmas from the vet experts at Joii Pet Care 

Keep food out of paws reach 

Our research shows that only 36% of paw-rents make an effort to keep food out of their dog’s reach. 

Ensuring that no potentially toxic foods are left anywhere that your dog can reach is the easiest way to prevent them from getting their paws on something they shouldn’t. It may be easier to invest in a baby gate for the kitchen door to ensure that there is no way for your pets to slip through whilst you’re preparing and cooking food.

Place any extra food that needs throwing out in a bin bag and take it to an outside bin right away. This should hopefully ensure that your pets aren’t able to knock over the bin or rip through the bag if they can smell something tempting inside. 

Explain to family and friends what your dog can and can’t eat 

Over the Christmas period, you may have friends and family visiting who aren’t pet owners or who aren’t as familiar with what dogs can and can’t eat. It’s a good idea to send them this blog page before their visit so they don’t accidentally ‘treat’ your dog to a toxic food. 

Pet-proof your decorations 

Outside of festive foods, there are several other seasonal hazards dogs can come into contact with. Our study showed that, as dog owners, a quarter of us (24%) feel the need to pet-proof our Christmas decorations!

To your pup, baubles and tinsel are toys to be played with. However, if swallowed they can cause a dangerous stomach blockage. To prevent curious paws from getting ahold of them, it’s best to hang decorations high up. 

Our research also found that 1 in 5 dog owners (20%) have had to remove gifts from under the tree so they're not destroyed by present-hungry pooches. Keep gifts stored away until the day itself so your dog can’t ‘open’ any presents they shouldn't do. 

For extra guidance on which Christmas foods are best for your pet, it’s worth speaking to a vet.

Don’t forget, if you’re an Animal Friends dog or cat customer, video consults with the vet experts at Joii are available 24/7 for FREE!

How to get involved and learn more this festive season: 

Share your festive dog-friendly recipes and pictures on social using #SeasonsTreatings 

We'll be popping up in different locations across the UK offering advice and giving away dog safe treats - so keep your eyes peeled on our socials to see if we're in a city near you this Christmas time!